NFL national news: Excuse me while I poke my nose into your personal life

I wonder when they'll bring the McRibb back? - Scott Halleran

Teams wonder if Manti Te'o is gay, why only 8 players were franchised, Joe Flacco's big fat new contract, and Lauren Silberman makes NFL history. Oh, and Michael Vick loves his dog.

The NFL combine wrapped up last week, and the question every NFL team really wants to know isn't who's the fastest, strongest, can jump the highest, or can wonderlic the best (I'm pretty sure that's the way you say it). What every NFL team really wanted to know was if Manti Te'o is gay.

You may remember Te'o as the Notre Dame football player who claimed his girlfriend died only for it to be revealed later that she didn't die. In fact, she never even existed in the first place. So why would someone makeup a fake girlfriend who died? The popular theory is that he must be gay. Either that or he just loves the spotlight and wanted to make up a story that would garner him some extra publicity. I don't know if he's gay but the story did get him a lot of publicity and as they say, even bad publicity is good publicity unless your name is Anthony Weiner and it was discovered that you were sexting pictures of your...uhm...well, you get the idea.

In the novel 1984, written by George Orwell, it talks about Big Brother watching all of the citizens of the fictional nation of Oceania. Everywhere the citizens went they had to be careful what they said or did because Big Brother was watching. Well guess what, Big Brother is watching and it's not the government. It's all of us! We're taking pictures, videos, blogging, texting, tweeting, and using just about every form of social media available to us so we can poke our big fat noses into everyone else's business before turning around to make sure everyone of our "friends" on our social networks knows all about what this person said or did. In interest of full disclosure I first heard about this idea from Anthony Cumia.

We've all become an army of camera phone wielding paparazzi and blogging investigative journalists who report any salacious detail we can about everyone we can. Did anyone really care that JFK and Marilyn Monroe were getting it on 60 years ago? But Weiner texts a picture of his...you know...his...(I'll let you fill in the blank) and everyone loses their mind and Weiner is forced to resign from Congress.

However when it all comes down to it, who cares? Does it really matter if Te'o is gay or not? Is being tackled by a big sweaty man OK if he's straight but if he's gay that somehow becomes a bad thing? Of course the bigger issue is the locker room, but they let female reporters in the locker room and I don't think anyone's going crazy over that or asking the female reporters what their sexual identity is. And just so we're clear, I guarantee there are gay players in the NFL right now. Would any of us have known Kwame Harris was gay if he hadn't been charged with abuse after he beat up his ex-boyfriend?

One of my favorite quotes is by Friedrich Nietzsche when he said, "You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." We should spend more time worrying about ourselves and less time worrying about what people may or may not be doing in their free time. Now excuse me while I post some pictures of Michael Vick with his dog at a dog training class. Those are freaking hysterical!

Tag, you're it!

Last year, an NFL record 21 players were slapped with the franchise tag. This year only 8 players were franchised. They are, in no particular order:

Bills safety Jairus Byrd

Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton

Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer

Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady

Colts punter Pat McAfee

Chiefs offensive tackle Brandon Albert

Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks

So why the big drop in the number of players that were franchised? Part of it was teams not wanting to use the franchise tag on the same player for the second year in a row since that would require a 20% increase in pay (Anthony Spencer was the only player to be franchised for the second straight year). A team may feel it's worth paying a player $6 million but it's not worth paying him $7.2 million. But more importantly I think teams are reevaluating how they do business and the best way to stay competitive for the long run.

One of the most basic concepts in Economics is that people try to maximize their pleasure given their budget constraints. Is it worth paying an extra three to four dollars on premium ice cream or would I be better off buying generic ice cream and using that money somewhere else? The obvious answer is, "Hell yes it's worth it! Generic ice cream tastes like crap!" OK, maybe that wasn't the best analogy, but you get the idea.

In the past, teams were loath to allow a Pro Bowl player in their prime to leave, and would often pay top dollar to keep them. However, more and more teams are looking toward their long term success instead of just what makes them better this year. Think of it like a man who wants instant gratification so he goes on a spending spree only to find himself with $50,000 worth of credit card debt which will severely limit his financial freedom in the future.

Which brings me to my next point...

Oh my God, did they really just pay Joe Flacco that much money?

Given the importance of the QB position, it's probably the only position teams still won't allow a top player in their prime to walk away. Well Flacco is in his prime, but is he a top player? Keep in mind this is a guy who has never been to the Pro Bowl but for some reason has had a fair amount of playoff success. If Tony Romo had won as many playoff games as Flacco we might be discussing if he's a future Hall of Famer. Yes, you can stop laughing now. I said we'd be discussing it, not that it was a good argument.

Flacco has won at least one playoff game in each of his first five years in the NFL. He's reached the AFC Championship game three times and has won a Super Bowl. That sounds great until you start looking at his actual numbers. For his career he's completed only 60.5% of his passes including a 59.7% completion rate last year, he's never thrown for over 4,000 yards in a season, and he's only had a passer rating over 90 one time back in 2010. He's a quality QB who's benefited from playing on a team that's had a good to great defense and a solid running game. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games thanks to their defense and running game. Then when they disappeared he went from Mark Sanchize to Mark "You suck, get the hell out of here!"

I can sympathize with the Ravens because I don't see how they could have let Flacco test the free agency market, but I would have used the franchise tag on him and at least tried to make the contract a little more reasonable. Now they're stuck paying elite QB money to a QB I might not even rank in the top 10 of the NFL.

And what did Flacco do after signing his new fat contract? He went to McDonalds and bought a 10-piece chicken nugget meal. Seinfeld is flashing through my head right now saying, "Just what part of the chicken does the McNugget come from anyways? If it's what I McThink it is, I don't want to McEat it."

Random news

For the first time ever a woman took part in a regional combine (it's like the main combine only, you know, regional). Lauren Silberman had hopes for making it as a kicker but on her first kick attempt she injured her quad. She gamely tried a second kick but realized she couldn't go on after that. This is seriously the craziest thing I've heard about in a while. There's a regional combine? I mean, I knew about the main combine and I knew about pro days, but a regional combine? You learn something new everyday.

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